Thursday’s campaign round-up

THURSDAY’S CAMPAIGN ROUND-UP…. Today’s installment of campaign-related news items that wouldn’t necessarily generate a post of their own, but may be of interest to political observers:

* Hawaii Sen. Daniel Akaka (D) announced last night that he will retire at the end of his term next year. The 86-year-old incumbent had made no real effort to raise funds for a re-election race, so the news doesn’t come as a surprise. He’s the seventh senator to announce retirement plans in advance of 2012, and the fifth Democrat.

* On a related note, David Catanese goes through some of the likely contenders for Akaka’s seat, which Democratic officials fully expect to keep “blue,” especially in a year in which President Obama will be on the ballot.

* In Wisconsin, a recall effort is underway, targeting eight Republican state senators who are cooperating with Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) union-busting crusade. A switch of three seats would give Democrats a majority, and the Democratic Party of Wisconsin has offered its official support for the effort.

* Former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer (R), who served in Congress as a Democrat in the 1980s, is launching a presidential exploratory committee today and will be in Iowa on Monday.

* In Virginia, the latest survey from Public Policy Polling shows President Obama leading all of his likely GOP challengers in hypothetical match-ups. Mitt Romney does the best, trailing the president by six points, while Sarah Palin does the worst, trailing by 19 points.

* Speaking of Virginia, former Gov. Tim Kaine (D) will end the suspense next week and announce whether he’ll run for the Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Jim Webb (D).

* And in still more Virginia news, if Kaine doesn’t run, PPP shows former Rep. Tom Perriello (D) looking fairly competitive in a race against leading Republican George Allen.

* Arizona Democrats are holding off on next year’s open Senate race, waiting to see whether Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D) is willing or able to run. But if she isn’t, Rep. Ed Pastor (D) is apparently interested.

* And in Wisconsin, PPP shows incumbent Sen. Herb Kohl (D) looking pretty strong in advance of next year’s race, leading all of his likely challengers in margins ranging from 7 to 15 points. Kohl, however, has not said whether he’s running.